Never Summer Wilderness Area, Colorado

Estes Park Colorado
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Never Summer Wilderness

Nestled within the Arapaho and Routt National Forests in the northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Never Summer Wilderness encompasses more than 21,000 acres of pristine forestland.

  • The Never Summer Wilderness Area is a great place to explore while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Hike the Baker Gulch to Bowen Gulch trail for incredible views
  • Try some fishing in Parika Lake to catch some cutthroat trout
  • View moose, bear and bighorn sheep in their natural environment


Never Summer Wilderness Area, on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, has towering peaks, beautiful forests and bogs to explore. It’s the ideal place for hiking and backpacking through the wilderness of the Rockies.


To reach Never Summer Wilderness from Estes Park, Colorado, get on US Highway 34 (also known as Trail Ridge Road) and go through Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s about 40 miles to the Bowen/Baker trailhead on the west side of the highway for access to the forest’s wonders.

You can get more information by contacting the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests Headquarters Office at 2150 Centre Avenue, Building E, Fort Collins, CO 80526. Their phone number is 970-295-6700.


The Never Summer Wilderness is named that for a reason. There is a lot of precipitation all year long. The best time to visit is in the summer.


The Never Summer Wilderness runs along the Continental Divide Trail, offering visitors fantastic views and numerous opportunities to escape into the peace of the great outdoors.

  • Hiking
    This wilderness area straddles the Continental Divide and there are approximately twenty miles of trails. You’ll love the Baker Gulch to Bowen Gulch trail where you can have some stunning views, pass two alpine lakes and perhaps catch sight of a moose. The trail starts out in Rocky Mountain National Park before entering Never Summer Wilderness. You have a number of choices of routes, all wonderful!
  • Backpacking
    From the same trailhead you can take off for a backpacking adventure to Parika Lake. You’ll find fewer day hikers here. It’s a 5.1-mile hike one way with an elevation gain of 2,496 feet.
  • Fishing
    Lakes in the area (including Blue, Bowen, Ruby and Parika) have populations of native cutthroat trout for some great fishing.
  • Wildlife Watching
    As you enjoy those lovely alpine lakes and incredible views, don’t be surprised to spot the wildlife that inhabits these mountains. You might see bear, moose, bighorn sheep, elk or bobcats. Mountain lions, deer, marmot and many bird species also occupy the forests.

Additional Info

The old growth of Bowen Gulch is responsible for sparking some of the first “tree huggers” of Colorado to act against logging efforts. At such a high elevation (over 10,000 feet) it is amazing how old and how large these spruce and fir forests have grown. Bowen Gulch is located within the southern parts of Never Summer Wilderness and its trees are estimated to be 600 years old and can grow as large as four feet in diameter.